The Blinder Group
helping media companies maximize revenue through effective sales of their multimedia assets

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Small Papers Gain Big Dollars with Web/ Print Combo Program

The Challenge

"If the local media sales rep does not take digital solutions to their local advertisers, someone else will!" says Mike Blinder, president of the Blinder Group, an international multimedia sales training and consulting firm. Mike has made this statement at hundreds of training sessions and at numerous conventions around the world. Blinder goes on to say: "Local media companies already have the relationships and TRUST with the local advertising community. So, they have an advantage when it comes to providing the marketing solutions the local advertiser is looking for!" According to a number of recent studies, even while the economy was struggling, local online spending continued to rise with the strongest growth coming from small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Says Blinder: "SMBs are craving a digital solution now. If the local media sales teams do not provide it, an out of area "pure play" provider or the local Yellow Page company will!"

To prove this very point, Dick Larkin, who heads sales for HomePages Directories, the fastest growing community directory publisher in the USA, spoke on this very topic at the recent "Revenue Boot Camp" hosted by the Blinder Group in association with the Suburban Newspapers of America and Editor and Publisher Magazine. Dick's presentation, entitled "How Yellow Page Companies are Eating Your Lunch," centered on the fact that his 400+, Midwest based, aggressive sales force is closing local deals for huge gains on SMB's using the digital components of a bundled sale as the lead on their sales calls. "Customers have mentally shifted to online," said Larkin to an audience of over 55 Newspaper executives at this Blinder/ SNA event. "But, you can bundle the legacy print product with the online offering for huge profits!"

It is with this goal in mind that Morristown, TN, based Lakeway publishers, hired the Blinder Group to work with 21 of their newspapers to develop a sales program that would leverage an online directory with their legacy products to generate new online and print revenue from local SMBs within their various markets.

The Solution

With many media companies incorporating online directories as part of their digital offering, Lakeway Publishers had their in-house Web developers create a similar product to be deployed company-wide. The Lakeway product offered the same features as many similar directory platforms. Each of their newspapers added a "search box" that appeared on all pages of their sites giving online visitors the opportunity to look for local businesses based on category or popular key words. Once a user enters the information they are looking for, a results page is shown listing local businesses within the area.

The program allowed each newspaper to offer exclusive advertisers the opportunity to have an enhanced listing inside the online directory, meaning their business is listed first in its respective category. The enhanced listing was linked to a "Business Profile" page that included additional information about the advertiser such as company information, coupons, maps, special offers, a copy of their current print ad and more!

"In most cases when we are working with a local directory deployment, we suggest to our media company client to blend the combined and active marketing component (such as the directory offering) with a passive one-making sure the advertiser has their message 'externalized' by getting it in front of more eyeballs that may not be actively seeking their products or services, but may be likely to make a decision to want to do business with them," says Blinder. Toward that goal, each newspaper displayed an online ad on the right rail of their websites, that lifted information from the advertiser's directory listing. These messages rotated on all content pages of the Web site. "This I believe is an essential marketing component when I work with a local media company in launching a local directory product", says Blinder. "There are a lot of digital directory products out there, but the media company's 'core competency' is having local content that already has attracted local eye balls. When we add a component to the packages we design that 'blend' targeting that reader to the entire program. we have an exclusive, more competitive product to take to market."

The final piece of the offering was a print component within a locally branded Business Directory where each advertiser appeared every week. Each market had a differently branded print solution that was married to the similarly branded online solution, which was sold as a bundled product.

"I always tell local advertisers that it is great to be part of a search product where you are found actively, but let's not forget the passive audience." Toward that goal, each newspaper created a widget for the right rail of its website that lifted information from the advertiser's directory listing and rotated it throughout all content pages of the newspaper's website.

The final piece to this solution for local SMBs was a print component of the local Business Directory where each advertiser appeared every week and once a month received an advertorial feature in the directory. "We gave them the best of everything," says Blinder. "We gave them an enhanced directory listing solution, offered them banner inventory on the website, and we even added print to the mix."

Sales Support Materials

The Blinder Group also assisted in the production of the associated sales support collaterals necessary for this program's deployment. A simple, easy-to-follow multiple page flyer was developed so the advertisers (and the sales team) could easily grasp the features and benefits of this sales program. Too often, media companies do not graphically explain the online portions of sales programs in an easy-to-follow manner. This creates confusion during the sales process. The Blinder Group has vast experience in creating such sales presentations.

Sales Team Training

The Blinder Group conducted an initial training session with the traditional salespeople of all 21 newspapers to instruct on:

- Prospecting new multimedia business
- The basics of multimedia marketing and how the medium works
- Best practices in selling online solutions
- The benefits of bringing interactive products to market
- Methods for using the Web to garner more market share
- How to attack the competition with online offerings

During that training, the sales staff was supplied with proven support documents that reinforced the training, as well as provided an appointment-setting script to assist them in setting up the calls.

The virtual training sessions conducted for each newspaper also included content informing the sales teams of the Blinder Group's scheduled return visits, in which "4-legged" sales training/closing calls were performed with the reps in each market, to assist in the launching of the new program. Salespeople were urged and encouraged during the meeting, to set up a large amount of appointments, with qualified "decision-makers" of area businesses.

Guaranteed Revenue Generation

One of the key elements to ensuring sales success of this initiative is garnering advertiser approval of meeting attendance, as well as the validity of the concept in general. Some of these advertisers are new to marketing their business online and feel wary of trying new ideas. One of the most effective means of accomplishing attendance and acceptance is to introduce the advertiser to an industry respected "outside" consultant who has had success with similar programs, with similar businesses, in similar markets, all across North America. That is why many media companies contract with the Blinder Group to perform "4-legged" sales training/closing calls with traditional ad reps, to assist in the launch of programs like the one defined in this document. Also, during these assisted, "4-legged" sales training/closing calls provided by the Blinder Group, the accompanying salesperson learns new, valuable techniques in how to sell innovative programs, like this one, in an effective manner.

The Blinder Group has a proven track record of generating high "closing" ratios, resulting in significant revenue for client media companies that have deployed this form of advertising sales initiative. In two weeks, Lakeway Publishers generated nearly $225,000 of online and print revenue for its 21 newspapers from this innovative program.

"Our print reps have an established relationship with their customers and know what their customers are trying to do - they are really a part of those businesses," says Jack Fishman, president and CEO of Lakeway Publishers. "It is best for our newspapers, and our online initiatives, that we have those same salespeople carry this new message - letting their customers know we now have a new and extended product to help them grow their business."

Contact Information
For Lakeway Publishers
Jack Fishman President/ CEO
423 581 5630

For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
Blinder Group Inc.
(727) 847-2464

The Blinder Group
Tampa Offices: 6139 Fjord Way
New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
(727) 847-2464 ~ (727) 847-5959 (fax)

SPEAKING PROGRAMS, seminars and workshops

CONSULTING/TRAINING: Strategic Planning ~ Basic Sales Training
Multimedia Sales Training ~ Assisted 4-Legged Closing Calls

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